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BLOOMINGTON — After beginning with a 30-minute lightning delay, the 30th annual Intercity Girls Track Meet ended with University High School winning its fourth straight title on Monday.

The Pioneers scored 113 points followed by Normal West (97.5), Bloomington (58.5), host Central Catholic (53) and Normal Community (52).

“We had a ton of event champions this year, but it's still those fourths and fifths that are so important,” said U High coach John Neisler, whose team won nine of the 18 events. "The girls have stepped up every single year the last four and just gotten them.” 

Of the 14 individual events, 10 were won by four athletes: U High’s Jessica McDowell and Ella Bittner, West’s Whitney Bozarth and Bloomington's Kelise Johnson.

McDowell won three showdowns with NCHS star Kailah Carter to sweep the sprints. McDowell took the 100-meter dash, 12.95 seconds to 13.45; the 200, 26.02 to 27.27, and the 400, 56.95 to 59.37. Each race finished into a stiff headwind.

"The wind definitely affected my time," said McDowell, whose 56.95 ranks sixth in Pantagraph area history and broke Chante Stonewall’s 2015 school record of 58.18. “It means a lot to me because one of my goals this year was to break the school record so it feels great to do that already.”

McDowell also led off the winning 400 relay (50.38) which included Macy Tongate, Sawyer Schoon and Courtney Kowalski.

A Eureka College recruit, Bozarth swept the horizontal jumps, sailing a season best of 17 feet, 2 inches in the long jump and 35-1 in the triple jump before stepping over the 300 hurdles in 50.17 to outlean teammate Marissa Hagler by four hundredths of a second. 

“When I saw her coming up close, I was like 'I can't let her beat me right now.' I knew I had to get it because I wanted to win four (events),” said Bozarth, who also led off the winning 800 relay (1:50.71) ahead of Courtney Carter, Rosh Webb and Kayanna Jones. 

Neisler gave 3,200 relay stalwart Bittner the night off from that event so she could sweep the 1,600 (5:19.84) and 3,200 (11:35.73).

Bittner, who’d never run the 3,200 before, outkicked runner-up Olivia Hartke of NCHS (11:41.22) over the final 220 meters. Bittner’s finishing sprint has a mind of its own.

“I just wait for it,” said the defending 1,600 champion. “I wait until I feel it and then I just take it. It can be on the last lap. It can be anywhere. It just comes whenever it wants to.”

U High still won the four-by-800 (9:51.47) thanks to Kendy Ummel (2:25.7), Lizzy Zacharias (2:27.3), Emmy Mussey (2:28.5) and Mackie Madix (2:29.9). Ummel doubled back to win the open 800 over Mussey, 2:26.58 to 2:27.39.

Three-time shot put runner-up Johnson of BHS, the area leader at 40-1, stepped up to win at 38-7 after earlier capturing the discus at 107-6. 

"Somehow I just started doing things wrong (in the shot put) and it's been showing," said Johnson, who opened with three throws of 36-5. "I just really need to buckle down on my form more." 

Normal West high jumper Kenzie Klink, who'd been stuck at 4-10, won with an area-leading personal best of 5-5. She almost made 5-6. 

"I was so close, but I was a little tired after all of the attempts before," she said.

With shin splints sidelining area 100 hurdle leader Sydney Chong of NCHS, that title went to Kimmy Detwiler of BHS for the second straight year in 17.01.

“(Chong) probably would have pushed me to run faster,” Detwiler said. “It’s really exciting (to repeat) because I’ve been working pretty hard. It was one of my goals.”

Rounding out the individual winners was U High’s Lindsey Shouse in the pole vault (11-0).

NCHS picked up its lone victory in the 1,600 relay (4:13.86) on the legwork of Gabby Menefee (63.6), Lauren Sanderson (63.9), Lanaja Brownlee (66.4) and Jordynn Griffin (59.9).


Photos: Intercity Girls Track Meet

Contact Randy Sharer at (309) 820-3405. Follow him on Twitter: @PG_sharer

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Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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